Diary Of A Busker Day 454 Tuesday September 24th 2013 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:35-2:05pm, 2. Next to The Slug & Lettuce, The Square, Time: 2:15-3:20pm, 3. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:30-3:36pm).
Sam’s in town again, at The Butter Cross (I thought he’d moved to Brighton?!) He’s doing Here Comes The Sun – one of mine, but with words!, so I decide to open with that, down the road. In fact, he was probably still on it when I started it up…and down the road, we have the karaoke version…
Things are slow: I get through four of my ‘biggest hits’ – the aforementioned Here Comes The Sun, La Vie En Rose, Albatross, and Wouldn’t It Be Nice (To Have Some Coinage) before the first donation, and another three songs before the next one. In fact, I even inform the woman – ‘I’ve been here twenty minutes and you’re only the second person, etc…’ She says ‘Really? And so many people about’. Indeed, as Mr. Churchill said – “Never in the field of public performance was so much played for so many for so little coinage”, or something like that. I might make a new rule today: give it half an hour and if the money’s no good, pack it in, which is what I do here, after the count-up reveals a measly £3.50p.
Up the road, near Vodafone, there is a guy singing folk-ey stuff and playing what I think is a dulcimer. I’ve never seen him before but I think he walked past while I was playing. Further up, Sam’s still at The Butter Cross, and just around the corner, in the alleyway, there’s a Drongo harmonica player – a harmonicist? – who has a moan about him. He says he asked him a couple of hours ago how long he’d be playing and Sam said an hour, so this bloke’s getting annoyed, but he doesn’t want to go up to him. I say he should. ‘Really?’, he says. Yeah, I say, he should, if he said he’d be an hour and he’s been two, he should definitely say something or Sam’ll be there all day (as is his wont). I’m not going up for him, though!
The second spot’s at The Slug & Lettuce, which goes a bit better – an hour and five minutes this time, and I’m lucky enough to sell a CD – and an £8 one at that! I didn’t think I would as, at the start, the bloke – about 65, wanted a £5 one, which don’t exist anymore. But he succumbed to my hard sell, ie: another 14 songs for a mere £3 extra. He even asked me to sign it – ‘To Adrian and Angela’, so this is Adrian, and this is after Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring, so that’s Song Of The Day. And what of Adrian? Well, he tells me he’s a violinist. He’s got an 1890 instrument and he’s also written some hymns, one of which he proceeds to sing to me…then he says ‘There’s nothing like hearing your own music performed by people’. Indeed, Adrian, you’re a lucky man.
I was going to come home after the second spot but because it was better than the first, I decided to head down to Oxfam for a final one. The Butter Cross was out, as Sam’s still there, having his break-time roll-up (he should start paying rent, the cheeky git!) I wonder if the harmonica guy went up to him…
At Oxfam I meet a little boy, his name was Cahn, or something that sounded like that. I notice he’s wearing hearing-aids – but how so, for someone so young? His parents tell me he inherited a hearing loss gene from BOTH his parents who, strangely enough, DON’T have any hearing problems! They say he’s got 75% hearing loss, and although the hearing-aids are really good, he has to understand sign language. He seems a nice kid, so he gets The Third Man to dance around to.
Half an hour and that’s it, apart from a chat with Mick, who’s sitting outside the coffee place up the road, with the ubiquitous coffee and cheroot. He asks how it’s going, so I tell him: I’m getting bored by it all. I’ve done it long enough: three years and I don’t want to do another winter. I’m going to have to work in a shop or something. He says ‘Three years! You’re only just starting! We used to have to work on the ships week in, month in, year after year. I mean, I used to try and get one or two new tunes in every week, so we would have something new to do, you know, not playing the same stuff’. That’s as maybe, but I say three years is long enough for any ‘musical venture’, – for me, that is. After three years I need to do something else. In fact, when I look back on anything I’ve done in the past: groups, duos, whatever, none of them have gone beyond three, or four years, at the most. That must be my natural endurance span.
Mick does his usual lecture on chord information. He’s going on about a song with an augmented 5th in it. I know what an augmented chord is, but not an augmented 5th, so I ask him. ‘Well, E augmented 5th – you’ve got a C chord with an E bass’. ‘Oh right, I see’, I say(!?) He says he was his band’s arranger so he had to know all that stuff, but he said the most difficult thing he had to do was to arrange a piece for two voices – two horns – ‘Cause you’ve got only two. You can’t get a third part to complete the chord. Someone like Bach could do it in his sleep, not me’. What a humble chap.
He then comments on the weather – ‘At least it’s warm – an Indian Summer’. I say ‘Why do people have to have a name for everything? Why can’t it just be “a warm September”? Anyway, what IS an Indian Summer?, and is it your North American Indian or your Asiatic Indian?’ (fair question). He doesn’t know, but he knows a song called Indian Summer – of course if anyone does, Mick does! I ask if it has a decent melody, so he sings/hums a bit, pauses, then says he thinks so, so I say I’ll look it up…if I can remember.
Earnings: £31.37p (Including one CD for £8)